Characterisation and remediation of cellulose degradation at the wet/dry interface

Project description

The formation of brown lines (tidelines) at the wet/dry interface in paper is a well-known yet poorly understood phenomenon, which has detrimental consequences on the conservation of cellulosic documents. It can be observed in real time and ambient conditions by immersing vertically in water the lower end of a sheet of paper. The capillary rise of water in the cellulosic fibres creates a wet/dry interface. A brown line appears and stabilizes in a few hours. Reactive chemical species are produced in a short period of time inducing severe degradation, predominantly oxidative in nature. A better understanding of the tideline phenomenon is important for the conservation, storage and treatment of cultural objects made of paper, and is also of general relevance to the understanding of the chemistry of cellulose degradation. The effect of antioxidants is evaluated with the aim of developing new solutions for conservation treatments.


  • National Gallery of Art (US), Dongguk University (Korea), BOKU (Austria), LAMBE UMR 8587-University of Evry (France)

Funding sources

  • PICS CNRS France / US (CRCC/NGA) (2008-2010) Andrew Mellon Foundation (2009-2010), Korea Research Foundation (2009)

Further reading

  • (2008) Souguir, Z., Dupont, A.-L., de la Rie, E. R. Formation of brown lines in paper: characterisation of cellulose degradation at the wet-dry interface. Biomacromolecules 9, 9, 2546–2552. doi:10.1021/bm8006067
  • (2012) Jeong, M.-J., Dupont, A.-L., de la Rie, E. R. Degradation of cellulose at the wet-dry interface. I. Study of the depolymerisation, Cellulose 19, 4, 1135-1147. doi:10.1007/s10570-012-9722-4